Emma Manasti threw her cap high in the air. Graduation was finally happening and it gave her a small sense of freedom, even though overall she felt trapped. She wanted to make this summer one to remember before college started. Being the youngest of seven her future was already planned out, just as her siblings were. She always got pretty good grades but following the Manasti path was not something she was looking forward to.
Her family heritage was quite strong in that little Colorado town. The best relationships, the center of the social circles, the best grades, the best of everything. It made her feel comfortable and safe, as if someone had already cleared a path for her future. The Manastis were always highly regarded. Emma didn’t care about all of that though. She was missing something in her life and not knowing what that was left her empty inside. Being a Virgo, Emma always smiled and accepted the things handed to her and all the while she was screaming for something newer, something more bold and more adventurous.
Josh picked her up that night and she looked stunning as always. Her black sequined halter dress showed her flawless milky white skin beautifully and her long dark hair always looked picture perfect no matter what she did. She supposed it was a family trait that she never had to fuss much over her looks. After twenty minutes of parental warnings of drinking at the graduation party they finally got out the door. Josh was looking forward to the after party with just the two of them more than the actual party.
“I just want to get you alone and make you crazy.” He leaned over, kissed her and felt her up before they left the driveway. She smiled just to be polite but knew there would be no making her ‘crazy’. Sex with the captain of the football team was ok. Even though he was sweet, he lacked that something that made Emma’s toes curl. The spark between them only existed when they first became a couple. After the newness wore off, she knew he wasn’t for her, but her parents loved him.
The party was fun after Emma consumed a little alcohol. She danced with friends, hugged and cried when talking about future plans and went through the emotions every teenager goes through when realizing their lives were all changing. When Josh finally got her alone in a bedroom upstairs, he only had one thing on his mind. Unfortunately Emma didn’t. She needed to connect with him on a much deeper level.
“Don’t you want to break out of here? Explore the world?” She took his hands and looked into his eyes. If he agreed with her, if he told her he’d go with her wherever she wanted to go, she might have thought they had a chance.
“The only think I want to break out of is these clothes on your sexy bod.” Emma pulled away from him and stood, looking at him on the bed.
“Aren’t you curious about the world? We are officially out of school. We only have the summer and then what?”
“I dunno. College, parties…” he grinned “…more sex. Then who knows, maybe we can get married and… I dunno…whatever.”
“You’re clueless. You’re in the same rut everyone else in this God forsaken town is in. Don’t you want to jump off the beaten path and just run in the other direction?” She was desperate. She was looking for anything from him, any kind of agreement or support.
He scooted off the bed and sashayed over to her.
“I think you should just come over here and let me make you feel good.” He slithered his arms around her and she let him, giving up on any sort of connection. The sex was…ok.
Afterwards, he looked to her for some sort of positive vibe to let him know he was amazing and when he didn’t get it, he let her know.
“What’s with you tonight?”
“I just think there is more out there than the way everything is supposed to go. My psychic said….”
“Why do you waste your time and money going to those people? They can’t read your future no more than I can.” Emma just let it go.
She was big into astrology because it helped give her direction. She knew most of the readers she went to were not authentic and maybe Josh was right. But a psychic can often read a persons body language enough to offer them good advice and inspire them on what way to go in life. She enjoyed this and openly accepted their craft hoping one day there would be one she’d meet who was genuine, who could actually see into her future and show her the way.
While she attended school she decided to live on the main campus still close to her family and boyfriend, but far enough away to get away from it all when she wanted to. The college wasn’t big but it was one of the better schools in the area. She regularly went to a psychic on a side street off the end of town. Not many knew of Madam Sophia. On a walk one gloomy afternoon Emma happened to walk past it. Not even thinking she went to the door and was able to be seen within minutes. Madam Sophia read her the way others did, but there was something in her eyes. There was a sadness about her. She knew Emma was not on the right path. She was only on a chosen one.
“This path you take is safe and secure and will lead you to a short life.” Emma wasn’t surprised. She knew this. But to hear it from someone who didn’t know her woke her up enough to know she needed to change the carved out path she was expected to blindly walk down. College, marriage to Josh, business career, babies, retirement. This thought alone made her want to run screaming in the other direction.
During her time at college, Emma decided to form her own future and mold her own life. She stopped in regularly with Madam Sophia even though she didn’t get a reading every time. Sometimes, just being there made her feel like she was doing something right. She needed something exciting in her life, something to look forward to. Her relationship with Josh was not it. He was a Libra and she was a Virgo. She knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t last. She also knew he wouldn’t be the one to end it. He was a good person with a wholesome heart but there was nothing there, nothing exciting. She needed more, much more.
“We need to talk.” Josh’s words were thick with worry. Emma knew that this weekend trip back home was going to change everything. “I talked to your dad today. He said you’re leaving school?” His mouth was thin and his forehead was crinkled with worry. He had his hands on his hips, pacing back and forth in front of her. “He said…you’re going to New York.” He stopped and looked at her. Emma just nodded confirming everything. “Why? What about our plans? I can’t just drop everything and run off to New York City with you because you feel you need to explore a little.” Emma took a big breath.
“I know Josh. Listen.” She stood and walked to him, taking his hands and watching his frown deepen. “I don’t expect you to understand. I need to do this. If I stay here I won’t be happy. I’m going to New York because I have to…and I think…” she hesitated, hoping he would catch on before she had to say it. But he didn’t. “We should break up.” She looked down waiting for whatever came next.
He just stood there a moment, dropped her hands and then walked out. Emma whispered, “I’m sorry” as her eyes welled up with tears.
She crushed Josh and broke her father’s heart but she had to believe in herself. No matter how hard turning off that path would be, she knew she needed to do it. She kept remembering Sophia’s words, her sadness in her eyes, and this was enough to keep the strength Emma needed to break the mold that was set for her. After graduation she visited Sophia once more, mostly to say good bye but also to thank her for all of her wise words and encouragement. Sophia smiled and gave Emma a business card.
“Go to her.” Emma read the card. A psychic from New York City, Miss Cleo.
The Big Apple was just where she needed to start. She was looking forward to the big city and the hustle bustle world around her. She was able to get a job in a museum in Queens and a small apartment not too far from it. She knew it was just the beginning, just a stepping stone to where she wanted to go. That weekend was difficult for her as she said good bye to everything she knew and set out across the country toward a new life. With everything she had in her pockets, she took the east bound bus all the way across the states until it stopped in Penn Station New York City.
A small apartment just inside Queens kept her belongings and her bed, but it wasn’t even close to ‘home’. Was this because it was such a strange and exciting city? So much different than the home she grew up in. She left a quiet home front on forty acres of land and parents who were afraid to cut the ties that bound her there. Her eyes were wide and her senses completely opened on her first night in New York City. The lights dazzled, the people bustled and the aromas overtook her.
She arrived in New York a week before she was scheduled to be at the museum. She wanted to get acclimated before she began her new life. As she settled down in her tiny apartment she remembered Madam Sophia’s advice. She leaned over and pulled the card from her bag. Miss Cleo, Downtown Queens. She pocketed the card and made a mental note to visit. She looked around and completely stopped for the first time in months. She looked at her phone and her heart hurt a little. The way she left things with her family needed to be mended. Granted, she probably could have slowly introduced her ideas a lot sooner than she did, but she knew they would only try to persuade her otherwise. She handled it the only way she knew how. In time she would reach out to her family again to let them know she was doing ok and what her plans were. Tonight she would begin something new. She couldn’t think about Colorado and she vowed to keep her mind on her future.
She found a small cafe down the road from her apartment and decided to have her first meal there. It was quaint and small. The small tarot card on the sign out front may have had something to do with it. If she didn’t see a menu board splayed out in front of the counter top she would have been convinced it was a place to go for a tarot card reader. As she sat that the little table on the other side of the glass front, she flicked the corner of the card. It was weathered and rough to the touch. Miss Cleo. The letters gleamed in gold as if the name was just printed. There were no hours of business listed. No phone number either. Emma ate her dinner and set out to find her.
Her GPS in her phone walked her down a few blocks and took her on two separate subways. The neighborhood she found herself in at the end of the stairs from the subways station was run down and lonely. Sirens in the back, a few people huddled around each other on the corners. She didn’t dare stay in one place for too long. She followed the GPS and ended up around the block and in front of an alleyway. It was dark and cold and Emma wanted nothing to do with her surroundings. She looked around as she tried to persuade herself to continue on. When she looked back down the alley it seemed to illuminate itself in some way. There were no lights, but something about that second look made it more inviting. She could see a small door at the end on the left. Her curiosity overcame her fear and she walked the alleyway to the little door. There were no signs or notices that said she was in the right place. She looked at the card again. She needed to trust her intuition. She reached down and turned the door handle and the door opened easily.